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Series / Nightingales

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L to R: Bell, Carter and Sarge

Nightingales is a British situation comedy set around the antics of three security guards working the night shift in a deserted office block. It was written by Paul Makin and produced by Alomo Productions for Channel 4 in 1990. The show combines naturalistic dialogue with surreal humor.

The three guards are:

  • Carter (Robert Lindsay), a pseudo-intellectual whose aspirations were invariably frustrated;
  • "Ding Dong" Bell (David Threlfall), a moronic thug who is somewhat in awe of Carter; and
  • Sarge (James Ellis), an impossibly optimistic veteran watchman.

Not to be confused with a 1989 NBC Medical Drama of the same title.


Nightingales contains examples of:

  • Away in a Manger: "Silent Night" has a heavily pregnant woman named Mary arrive on Christmas Eve at the office block where the show is set. After assuring them she's not an allegory, she then proceeds to give birth to, among other things, a toaster, the Pope, Harold Pinter and a tandem.
  • British Brevity: Two seasons, one of 6 episodes and one of 7.
  • Building of Adventure: The action (such as it is) never moves out of the office block, and frequently never moves out of a single room.
  • Christmas Episode: In "Silent Night", a pregnant woman named Mary knocks on the office block door on Christmas Eve, but assures the boys that she is not an allegory. She's lying.
  • Power Suit Monkey: Terrence Oblong, a gorilla who joins the team for an episode.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: "All at Sea" features the new inspector who rules with an iron fist. Mutiny is in the air.


Example of: